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Straight for Venus

Exclusive: How Rocket Lab’s giant rocket powers the future of space

Peter Beck is charting his own course.

All About Space Magazine/Future/Getty Images

Peter Beck is charting his own course.

On December 2, the CEO of spaceflight firm Rocket Lab starred in a video that detailed the latest updates to the Neutron rocket. The upcoming reusable vehicle can send 8,000 kg (17,600 pounds) to low-Earth orbit or 1,500 kilograms (3,300 pounds) to Mars and Venus.

Rocket Lab’s updates the world.

Beck dreams of Venus

Venus, of course, is a pet favorite of Beck’s — see Musk Reads+ #9 for more on that.

The latest update video showed a series of fascinating features for Neutron:

  • A unique, curved shape that enables rapid reusability
  • The “lightest upper stage ever, in history”
  • A wide, static base instead of deployable landing legs
  • A unique Rocket Lab carbon composite material that makes the rocket lighter than ever — the first of its kind
  • A “hungry hippo” fairing that stays fixed to the first stage

Want to know more about Rocket Labs’ big plans, how it could aid deep space missions, and how a unique design choice offers key improvements to rockets? Read the full interview with Peter Beck, only in MUSK READS+.

But he can’t do it alone

The Neutron rocket pairs with the Electron, the existing small rocket capable of sending 300 kg (661 pounds) to low-Earth orbit. The reusable rocket has completed 22 launches and successfully deployed 107 satellites.

Together, Beck claims the two can lift 90 percent of spacecraft planned for the next decade or so.

“It’s about right-sizing the vehicle for the majority of the market,” Beck tells Inverse.

Pragmatic yet inspiring, Beck’s approach is a reminder that finding a clear business case doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on bigger dreams. But Beck’s a realist. While he may dream about exploring Venus, he knows the money needs to come from somewhere.

“You don't go to all the trouble of building a rocket for no market,” he says.

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